Date:Monday July 27 2009
When our goalkeeper left Valley Parade at the end of the season the Bantams faced another summer of seeking someone to stand between the sticks. And it seemed quite a daunting prospect.
Donovan Ricketts had been ably replaced by Rhys Evans and many had found him to be one of the brightest features of our season. He received a good number of votes over the course of the season for Vital Bradford Man of the Match (a feature that will hopefully be properly delivered this year, any volunteers who want to post a poll on a weekly basis and write up the results please get in touch). In fact, it stuns me that, to my knowledge, he's still without a club. Especially given some of the other players we've released that have found pastures new.
We had signed Jon McLaughlin last year but he didn't really pose much of a threat to Rhys Evans' hold on the Number 1 jersey. And when he could he was unluckily struck down by injury. However, he's very well thought of and played for Great Britain in the World Student Games. But, is he ready to step up? we asked.
And the initial signs were that Stuart didn't think so judging by who came in on trial. Alan Mannus is a keeper with a wealth of experience who could have mentored the youngster. It seemed as though Stuart was looking for someone that McLaughlin could understudy, not challenge.
But Mannus went back to Linfield unsigned and the expectation was that Stuart had found someone else talented and experienced. So for us to have signed Simon Eastwood on loan til the end of the year is somewhat surprising.
Not that the product of the Huddersfield Town academy doesn't come highly rated. In fact he's represented England and played a number of games for Woking. He's therefore got talent but he lacks experience and consequently it's fair to say that he isn't what we expected.
But Stuart's happy and speaking to the Telegraph & Argus he said 'I have seen him play a couple of times. Huddersfield rate him very highly and he comes well recommended. He also played ten games on loan at Woking last season and everyone speaks highly of him. He was a target for us but we didn`t get any encouragement and then we missed out on a couple of other targets. Then we got a call from Huddersfield manager Lee Clark, who wants the lad to play regular football. We are pleased to get him and it should be a good fight for the shirt between him and Jon McLaughlin. He will be on loan with us until December 31."
What we have next season are two young men fighting to establish themselves in the game. We presume that Eastwood will be given the number 1 shirt with McLaughlin his backup but anything could happen in the remainder of preseason. Certainly, in less than two weeks the season will be kicking off with one of these two in between the goal posts.
Presumably, he's not costing a great deal which will leave the wriggle in the budget to plug that midfield gap. The next 10 days are definitely going to be interesting, who will be lining up alongside Lee Bullock come Meadow Lane?
If you have any rumours or thoughts to share make sure you visit the Vital Bradford forum to let us know!
Date:Monday July 27 2009
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